EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS


Calling Genetics and Other Things “Life Sciences” Does Not Turn Nature Into Patentable Science

Posted in America, Australia, Patents at 1:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc.
Reference: Association for Molecular Pathology v Myriad Genetics, Inc. | Wikipedia

Summary: The old riddle about whether naturally-occurring phenomena are patentable or not, in light of some very recent news (the past couple of days)

THE USPTO does not, in general, permit patents on genetics. The EPO has just opposed it, so it can be seen as hanging in the balance (the appeal boards will need to step in and decide).

A few days ago we wrote about life patents (e.g. patents on cancer treatments which aren't even drugs/chemicals). There are many different aspects to “life sciences” (a relatively new term if not buzzwords) and they should be considered in isolation: there’s genetics, there’s medicine, there’s treatment, there’s medical equipment and so on. They’re not the same thing.

Days ago we revisited the scam which Allergan set up with the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. IAM, not to our surprise, wrote about it under the “life sciences” banner yesterday. Adam Houldsworth wrote: [via]

Allergan sovereign immunity strategy rejected – Allergan’s effort to make patents relating to its Restasis dry-eye treatment exempt from Patent Trial and Appeal Board cancellation proceedings by transferring them to the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe suffered a serious blow last week. The board ruled that the tribe’s sovereign immunity does not extend to inter partes review, and that a Restasis patent should be subject to proceedings initiated by Mylan. This followed months of controversy surrounding the deal, which was seen by some as an attempt to circumvent the patent system and by others as a means of protecting important assets from a problematic administrative proceeding. The St Regis Mohawks have stated they will appeal the PTAB decision.

These are not “assets” but monopolies and PTAB is not “a problematic administrative proceeding.” But remember that this is IAM, a PTAB basher like Watchtroll, Patently-O, Patent Docs and a few other blogs we monitor for their anti-PTAB slant.

Yesterday we saw this blog post from an anti-PTAB site called Anticipat. This company is selling itself as a ‘cure’ to PTAB’s work and it seems to miss the simple fact that if a patent is abstract, then it’s invalid. Full stop. Here’s the latest rant:

We have previously reported that PTAB judges, like Examiners, are measured by a quota-based production system. For PTAB judges, the quota is based on the number of decisions they author. It is no secret that this production system prompts some Examiners and PTAB judges at times to get creative with practices to most easily meet their quotas. Here, we look at some recent decisions that show a pattern of PTAB judges deciding a Section 101 rejection without looking to the remaining pending grounds on appeal.

Why should they? Again, like we said above, if Section 101 applies (e.g. Alice), then it’s over. We understand that many patent trolls and parasites are afraid of PTAB. It undoes the damage caused when patents were granted in a hurry and/or in error.

“Another day of watching Supreme Court opinions to see if Oil States will come out,” wrote one lawyer this week. “Going to be at least another two weeks.”

He’s wasting his time. Oil States will likely be ruled unanimously in favour of PTAB and its much-needed IPRs. The patent system is a lot better now. SCOTUS has already named “trolls” and bemoaned the effect of frivolous patent litigation. It not only gave Alice but also Mayo and Myriad. PTAB actually enforces these; so why would SCOTUS weaken PTAB now?

The situation is a tad different in Australia, probably due to pressure from the likes of CSIRO. The Australian attorney Mark Summerfield is now ranting about medical/clinical trial patents facing an uphill battle. To quote:

From a policy perspective, getting the balance right is particularly important in the case of pharmaceutical products. If it is too difficult to obtain a valid patent, there may be insufficient incentive for companies to invest billions of dollars in new drug development. On the other hand, it is important to keep in mind that, one way or another, it is the wider community – either individually, or through taxes in countries where healthcare is substantially subsidised by government – that ultimately pays for that development, through the higher prices charged for patented drugs. Allowing patents to be granted too easily therefore may therefore represent a significant social cost.

Australia’s attitude towards patents on life was already mentioned here over the weekend. Patent Docs, a patent maximalists’ site, wrote about it a short while ago. It’s about Myriad again. To quote:

When the Australian High Court ruled against the patentability of isolated naturally occurring genes in the Myriad decision, a number of commentators believed that the decision would ultimately invalidate claims directed to methods involving the practical application of genes. A recent Federal Court decision, however, has confirmed that claims directed to methods involving the correlation of gene sequences to a particular trait in cattle are patent eligible subject matter in Australia.

Time will tell where the EPO stands on Myriad-type cases. At the moment it looks like there are forces tugging at both directions. Our position on that has always been the same: while we support affordable life-saving drugs and usually generics (access to medicine designed to maximise public health), we aren’t against patents on drugs; what we’re against are attempts to patent life itself, i.e. chromosomes, genome, antibodies, DNA sequences and so on.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

What Else is New

  1. Links 18/3/2018: Wine 3.4, Wine-Staging 3.4, KDE Connect 1.8 for Android

    Links for the day

  2. TXED Courts Are Causing Businesses to Leave the District, Notably For Fear That Having Any Operations Based There is a Legal Liability

    A discussion about the infamous abundance of patent cases in the Eastern District of Texas (TXED/EDTX) and what this will mean for businesses that have branches or any form of operations there (making them subjected to lawsuits in that district even after TC Heartland)

  3. PTAB Hatred is So Intense Among the Patent 'Industry' That Even Scammers Are Hailed as Champions If They Target PTAB

    The patent microcosm is so eager to stop the Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) that it's supporting sham deals (or "scams") and exploits/distorts the voice of the new USPTO Director to come up with PTAB-hostile catchphrases

  4. The Patent 'Industry' is Increasingly Mocking CAFC and Its Judges Because It Doesn't Like the Decisions

    Judgmental patent maximalists are still respecting high courts only when it suits them; whenever the outcome is not desirable they're willing to attack the legitimacy of the courts and the competence of judges, even resorting to racist ad hominem attacks if necessary

  5. The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) Carries on Enforcing § 101, Invalidating Software Patents and Upsetting the Patent 'Industry' in the Process

    A quick report on where PTAB stands at the moment, some time ahead of the Oil States decision (soon to come from the US Supreme Court)

  6. Luxembourg Can Become a Hub of Patent Trolls If the EPO Carries on With Its 'Reforms', Even Without the UPC

    With or without the Unified Patent Court (UPC), which is the wet dream of patent trolls and their legal representatives, the EPO's terrible policies have landed a lot of low-quality patents on the hands of patent trolls (many of which operate through city-states that exist for tax evasion -- a fiscal environment ripe for shells)

  7. The Patent 'Printing Machine' of the EPO Will Spawn Many Lawsuits and Extortions (Threats of Lawsuits), in Effect Taxing Europe

    The money-obsessed, money-printing patent office, where the assembly line mentality has been adopted and patent-printing management is in charge, is devaluing or diluting the pool of European Patents, more so with restrictions (monetary barriers) to challenging bad patents

  8. Links 17/3/2018: Varnish 6, Wine 3.4

    Links for the day

  9. Deleted EPO Tweets and Promotion of Software Patents Amid Complaints About Abuse and Demise of Patent Quality

    Another ordinary day at the EPO with repressions of workforce, promotion of patents that aren't even allowed, and Team UPC failing to get its act together

  10. Guest Post: Suspected “Whitewashing” Operations by Željko Topić in Croatia

    Articles about EPO Vice-President Željko Topić are disappearing and sources indicate that it’s a result of yet more SLAPP from him

  11. Monumental Effort to Highlight Decline in Quality of European Patents (a Quarter of Examiners Sign Petition in Spite of Fear), Yet Barely Any Press Coverage

    he media in Europe continues to be largely apathetic towards the EPO crisis, instead relaying a bunch of press releases and doctored figures from the EPO; only blogs that closely follow EPO scandals bothered mentioning the new petition

  12. Careful Not to Conflate UPC Critics With AfD or Anti-EU Elements

    The tyrannical Unified Patent Court (UPC) is being spun as something that only fascists would oppose after the right-wing, anti-EU politicians in Germany express strong opposition to it

  13. Links 15/3/2018: Qt Creator 4.6 RC, Microsoft Openwashing

    Links for the day

  14. PTAB Continues to Increase Capacity Ahead of Oil States; Patent Maximalists Utterly Upset

    The Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB) sees the number of filings up to an almost all-time high and efforts to undermine PTAB are failing pretty badly -- a trend which will be further cemented quite soon when the US Supreme Court (quite likely) backs the processes of PTAB

  15. Patent Maximalists Are Still Trying to Create a Patent Bubble in India

    Litigation maximalists and patent zealots continue to taunt India, looking for an opportunity to sue over just about anything including abstract ideas because that's what they derive income from

  16. EPO Staff Has Just Warned the National Delegates That EPO's Decline (in Terms of Patent Quality and Staff Welfare) Would Be Beneficial to Patent Trolls

    The staff of the EPO increasingly recognises the grave dangers of low-quality patents -- an issue we've written about (also in relation to the EPO) for many years

  17. The EPO is a Mess Under Battistelli and Stakeholders Including Law Firms Will Suffer, Not Just EP Holders

    As one last 'gift' from Battistelli, appeals are becoming a lot more expensive -- the very opposite of what he does to applications, in effect ensuring a sharp increase in wrongly-granted patents

  18. The EPO Under Battistelli Has Become Like China Under Xi and CPC

    The EPO is trying very hard to silence not only the union but also staff representatives; it's evidently worried that the lies told by Team Battistelli will be refuted and morale be affected by reality

  19. Links 14/3/2018: IPFire 2.19 – Core Update 119, Tails 3.6

    Links for the day

  20. Links 13/3/2018: Qt Creator 4.5.2, Tails 3.6, Firefox 59

    Links for the day

  21. Willy Minnoye (EPO) Threatened Staff With Disabilities Said to Have Been Caused by the EPO Work Pressures

    Willy Minnoye, or Battistelli's 'deputy' at the EPO until last year, turns out to have misused powers (and immunity) to essentially bully vulnerable staff

  22. IAM and IBM Want Lots of Patent Litigation in India

    Having 'championed' lobbying for litigation Armageddon in China (where IBM's practicing business units have gone), patent maximalists set their eyes on India

  23. The Patent Trolls' Lobby (IAM) Already Pressures Andrei Iancu, Inciting a USPTO Director Against PTAB

    Suspicions that Iancu might destroy the integrity of the Office for the sake of the litigation ‘industry’ may be further reaffirmed by the approach towards patent maximalists from IAM, who also participated in the shaming of his predecessor, Michelle Lee, and promoted a disgraced judge (and friend of patent trolls) for her then-vacant role

  24. Patent Trolls in the United States Increasingly Target Small Businesses Which Cannot Challenge Their Likely-Invalid Software Patents

    South by Southwest (SXSW Conference/Festivals in Austin, Texas) has a presentation about patent trolls, whose general message may be reaffirmed by recent legal actions in Texas and outside Texas

  25. EPO Staff Union Organises Protest to Complain About Inability “of the Office to Recruit the Highly Qualified Staff it Needs.”

    Having already targeted union leaders and staff representatives, the EPO may soon be going after those whom they passionately represented and the staff union (SUEPO) wants the Administrative Council to be aware

  26. Battistelli Likes to Describe His Critics as 'Nazis', Team UPC Will Attempt the Same Thing Against UPC Critics

    Demonising one's opposition or framing it as "fascist" is a classic trick; to what degree will Team UPC exploit such tactics?

  27. Session in Bavaria to Discuss the Abuses of the European Patent Office Later Today

    The EPO shambles in Munich have gotten the attention of more Bavarian politicians, more so in light of the Constitutional complaint against the UPC (now dealt with by the German FCC, which saw merit in the complaint)

  28. Links 12/3/2018: Linux 4.16 RC5, KEXI 3.1, Karton 1.0, Netrunner 18.03, Debian 9.4

    Links for the day

  29. EPO Patent 'Growth' Not Achieved But Demanded/Mandated by Battistelli, by Lowering Quality of Patents/Services

    Targets at the EPO are not actually reached but are being imposed by overzealous management which dries up all the work in a hurry in order to make examiners redundant and many European Patents worthless

  30. Doubt Over Independence of Judges at the EPO Clouds Reason in Deciding Regarding Patents on Life

    With the growing prospect of a Board of Appeal (BoA) having to decide on patentability of CRISPR 'innovation' (more like explanation/discovery), questions linger or persist about judges' ability to rule as they see fit rather than what some lunatic wants


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time


Recent Posts